5 tips to clean your home – and save the planet

Log onto almost any news website and in just a few clicks you’ll probably come across some story about the environment. Whether it involves international agreements, alternative energy sources or fuel-efficient cars, the discussion is often abstract and far removed from our everyday lives. Consumers want to know what they can do and how they can contribute to making a cleaner, greener planet. Minor changes can make a significant difference, particularly with cleaning your home. You can trade in harsh chemicals and wasteful cleaning products for sustainable methods that are just as clean, if not cleaner. Here are five ways …

Smart home update 2018: New products that organize your life through voice

The artificial intelligence that’s already taking the world by storm is ramping up even more in 2018, enabling a number of innovative new smart home tools that can make your life easier, more comfortable or just more fun. Throughout the year, consumers worldwide are expected to spend $102 billion on hardware, services and installation related to smart home systems, an amount expected to ramp up to $157 billion by 2022. The number of connected things installed in smart cities by next year? Nearly 1.1 billion, predicts Statista. Increasingly, people will enjoy the convenience of being able to monitor and control their surroundings with …

Replacing a furnace? How to choose an energy-efficient system

If it’s time to replace your furnace, you may be wondering if it’s worth the extra investment to buy an energy-efficient system. Or, you may be unsure how to choose an energy-efficient system for your home. “Energy-efficient heating systems can substantially lower your fuel costs over the lifetime of the system, so it’s well worth investing the time and money to find just the right one,” says Chip Wade, HGTV(R) expert. “Depending on where you live, an energy-efficient gas furnace can be between 12 and 16 percent more efficient than standard models, according to ENERGY STAR.” Wade offers some guidance …

Winter storm power outages on the rise – 3 ways to prepare

Winter storms can wreak havoc on roads, homes and personal lives. However, facing hours of cleaning up fallen tree limbs, shoveling snow or being cooped up inside with antsy kids might be the least of your worries. Experts predict more frequent and severe storms could lead to lengthy power outages that could affect thousands of Americans this winter storm season. In fact, increasingly severe weather is the chief reason power outages are becoming more likely, according to a National Governors Association report. What’s more, a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the average outage lasts two hours and 20 minutes, but …

5 myths about solar panels, debunked

Home solar panels can drastically cut or even eliminate electricity bills, reduce a home’s carbon footprint, increase resale value, and may even help a home sell faster. The cost of rooftop solar systems has fallen dramatically in recent years, and most homeowners have the option of buying the system, leasing it on reasonable payment terms, or having a third-party pay for and install the system at no up-front cost at all for the homeowner. Plus, home solar systems are eligible for federal tax credits. All of this explains why the number of homeowners installing solar has sky-rocketed across America. Nevertheless, …

It’s time: Signs your heating system needs a tune-up

Temperatures are falling, pumpkin spice everything has reappeared — all signs that winter is already here. If you haven’t already had your heating system tuned up, now is the time. Neglect is a top cause of heating system inefficiency and failure, according to ENERGYSTAR.gov. Proper maintenance can help ensure your system works as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible throughout the winter. Failing to care for your heating system now could leave you without heat or with hefty emergency repair bills if the system breaks down during very cold weather. A tune-up is an inexpensive way to ensure heating equipment is operating …

Easy winter weatherproofing: Keep the chill out as temperatures drop

Households heating with natural gas, which is almost half of U.S. homes, are expected to spend an average of $635 on heating this winter — 22 percent more than last winter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — but some easy seasonal maintenance tips can make a big difference. “There are several simple, inexpensive ways consumers can save money on utility bills this winter, and still stay warm and comfortable as temperatures begin to drop,” said Jill Murphy, a home heating and energy efficiency expert with Lennox Industries. “By taking the initiative to weatherproof their home before the start …

Shedding new light: 8 surprising facts that will have you rethinking your lighting

You step into a dark room, turn on the light switch and go about your day without giving it another thought. But here’s the thing — you should. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American home has approximately 50 light sockets, and most of those still contain inefficient light bulbs. These bulbs spend 90 percent of the energy they use creating heat around the bulb and only the remaining 10 percent providing any real, actual light. This is just one surprising fact about your lighting you may never have considered. To get you thinking about your lights …

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of the basic tenets of sustainable design is reduce, reuse, recycle. Yet, we often see residential projects, both new construction, and renovations, that ignore this basic principle. The U.S Green Building Council estimates nearly 30 percent of the waste generated in the United States is from the construction industry with half of the nearly 325 millions tons of waste coming directly from residential construction. These figures are staggering and, sadly, are only one side of the puzzle. We haven’t even quantified the emissions or energy needed to power these homes after they are built nor have we looked at …

How to Tackle a Dust-Free Renovation

Kristen Johnson* loved her home, her family, and their active lifestyle. She’d never want to change a thing — except for her foyer and adjoining dining room. When she and her husband first moved into their home, they had intended to refinish the hardwood floors in those areas in a darker stain to better fit their style, but life got in the way. Twelve years, two boys and countless birthday parties, pets and indoor soccer games later, their floors were covered in scuffs, scratches, and stains, and some of their walls needed repair. To complicate matters even further, they had …